The Corner

Anti-American Humor

So what would a good anti-American joke be?

Well, I remember a scattering from my 1950s childhood.  Back then anti-Americanism was pretty good-humored.  Aside from some residual “over here, over-paid, over-sexed” resentments among adult males, we liked Yanks.  Life with the Lyons was a great radio favorite.  Humor featuring Americans poked fun at either (a) speech differences, or (b) supposed American ignorance of British customs & history.  Samples:

Joke 1:  Am American and an Englishman, strangers to each other, get into conversation on a train.  Yank: “What kind of work d’you do?”  Brit: “I’m a clerk.”  Yank: “You’re a clerk?  Then why ain’t you going ‘tick-tock, tick-tock’?”

Joke 2:  A party of American tourists is being shown around Runnymede.  Tour guide: “This is where King John signed Magna Carta, the great document of English liberties.”  Yank: “When was that?”  Tour guide: “1215.”  Yank, turning to wife: “Aw, gee, honey, we just missed it by half an hour.”

That’s about as strong as it got.

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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